I am fortunate to own a nice recording studio with both two inch analog tape and a hard drive recording system. But, as I learn more about recording onto computers, it's really nice to realize the vision of a 'desktop' recording environment. Last issue, I reviewed Logic Audio Platinum. This issue, I have found the perfect complement to it-the Omni I/O. My desktop system needs to sit on my desk, and I don't have any extra room on it. A lot of PCI card audio interfaces still require you to have a mixer and monitor speakers at a minimum. Yeah right, I can barely find the room for a glass of water and the microphone that I borrowed from the studio. The Omni is the solution. Unlike a lot of other interfaces, it's only a half a rackspace so it fits on top of my monitor. Within that small space is everything I need to record myself and a friend or two: Two mic/inst. inputs/preamps (with switchable 48V phantom power that easily drives a large diaphragm condenser), two additional line inputs for four inputs total, six line outputs, a monitor output, two headphone outs with separate volumes, SPDIF digital I/O, and even insert points on the preamps and an effects send/return buss. The only minor complaint is that some of the knobs are small and close together, but that's minor and to be expected with so many features in such a small unit. The card is 24 bit 96k, and the preamps/converters sound fantastic to my ears. The Delta Panel app allows for routing and zero latency monitoring. The install/setup was a breeze, and I didn't even have to crack the manual. I have yet to see a card as well suited as this for true desktop recording, yet it's still extremely powerful and can grow into part of an advanced system. It ships with some free and trial software like Logic Delta (Mac/PC-supports VST, Direct X, full MIDI and 10 channels), Acid and Siren Xpress, Mixmeister, an MP3 player and more. With a street price of $499, this is what I recommend friends buy when they ask me about finding a used four or eight-track recorder. I mean I love tape, but considering the extra tracks, inexpensive recording medium, high sound quality, and lack of maintenance I have a hard time recommending analog tape over a desktop system to someone looking for a simple recording system to record one or two people at home. The all in one hardware solution of the Omni combined with powerful software like Logic Platinum and it's numerous high quality plug- ins is very hard to beat. (www.m-audio.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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